Cornelius in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Centurion of the Italian band or cohort at Caesarea (Acts 10); "devout and one that feared God with all his house": he ordered not merely himself but all his family in God's ways. Compare Genesis 18:19; Joshua 24:15. He had made the most of his spiritual opportunities; for coming to the Holy Land a heathen, when he knew of the true God there he became a true proselyte. Now "whosoever hath to him shall be given" (Matthew 13:12; Isaiah 64:5; Micah 2:7; John 7:17). So, "giving much alms to the people," which showed the self sacrificing sincerity of his religion, and "praying to God always," he was vouchsafed a further revelation, namely, the gospel, through Peter's instrumentality. A vision to Cornelius desiring him to send to Joppa for Peter, and a vision to Peter on the morrow, just as Cornelius' messengers, two household servants and "a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually" (for he followed David's rule, Psalm 101:6), were drawing nigh the city, instructing him to regard as clean those whom "God had cleansed," though heretofore ceremonially "unclean," and desiring him to go with Cornelius' messengers "doubting nothing," prepared the way. Whatever uncertainty there might be of the miraculous nature of either vision by itself, there can be none of the two mutually supporting each other. While Peter preached Jesus to them the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard. This left no doubt as to the propriety of baptizing these Gentile proselytes of the gate with Christian baptism. Thus Peter showed in act what Jesus meant by His promise, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever (ceremonies) thou shalt bind (declare obligatory), etc., loose (declare not so), etc., shall be bound ... loosed." The question which perplexed the early church was not whether Gentiles might, become Christians (for that was plainly declared Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47), but whether they could be admitted without circumcision. Cornelius' case decided this (Acts 11:17; Acts 10:28; Acts 10:34-35). Cornelius already "knew" by hearsay of Jesus' preaching (Acts 10:36-37); but now the faith was authoritatively declared to and accepted by him. An undesigned coincidence (a mark of truth) is to be observed in comparing "four days ago," Acts 10:30, with Acts 10:9; Acts 10:23-24, front which it incidentally comes out that four days in all intervened between Cornelius' vision and Peter's arrival, two days in going to Joppa and two in returning, just as Cornelius states. Cornelius, representing Roman nationality and force, was peculiarly fitted to be the first Gentile convert, the firstfruits of the harvest that followed.

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